There are several practical elements one must address when determining the right concealed carry setup for an individual. These are the “how to” components, such as which firearm, the particular carry method, what holster, etc. But, concealed carry also requires one to analyze their fashion: will your clothing effectively conceal your carry gun? With figure-flattering fashion leaving little room for convenient concealed carry, females more often run into difficulties trying to narrow down the options that best suit their carry needs. This series will present a few pointers for ladies’ concealed carry with regard to dressing for CCW – starting with the merits of wearing a gun belt.
Get a Gun Belt
I’ll admit, I have some… err… “colorful” style interests. In particular, I love Batman. So, I wear a lot of Batman-themed clothing. One of my favorite articles is a glow-in-the-dark belt buckle in the shape of the Batman symbol. I used to wear it pretty much every day. With my Batman buckle, I had to wear belts that allowed me to switch out the standard setup for my nifty glowing trinket. This trend isn’t particularly unique, so finding a belt that’ll swap buckles isn’t a challenge. But, after gradually destroying three iterations of pyramid studded and plain leather belts over the course of one year, I’ve learned the hard way that, when utilizing waistband carry methods, the weight of a firearm – especially a full size pistol like the beefy M9 I often equip – wears on regular leather in a way that simply cinching one’s pants does not. (I know, I probably should have given up on the “trendy” belts sooner, but, c’mon man, a glowing Batman buckle? I had to try to make it work.).
Granted, if you carry a lighter handgun than my solid +2lb pistols, it’s easier to make the fashionable belts last longer, but if you plan on carrying OWB or IWB, you’ll still need a stout belt. Those slick little 1″ dress belts won’t cut it for doing any more work than looking snazzy. Generally, the more stable waistband holsters feature belt loops that require a 1.5″ or 2″ wide belt. With an insubstantial belt, your pants (or skirts) will definitely experience some sagging, but more dangerous is how these flimsy belts fail to properly secure the holster. An unsecured holster means an unsecured pistol – bad news bears. It’s a tad more feasible to make a belt loop-less holster (such as a Remora or Sticky Holster) work without a belt. But, as these types of holsters require friction to retain the firearms within, you had better make sure that you have a rather snug waistband.
With most jeans/shorts/etc., a sturdy gun belt is a solid investment. A gun belts, like 5.11’s leather gun belts, offer reasonably nice-looking belts that’ll stand up to the extra tug of a pistol on your waist. In general, run a little costlier than your standard “fashion” belts (they generally run in the $30-$70 range, depending on how “fancy” your tastes are). But, if you consider that one gun belt will likely outlast a few of the cheaper “trendy” belts, it’ll end up saving you more in the long run.
Getting a purpose-built gun belt is more than a solution for keeping up one’s pants. It helps to more comfortably manage the weight of one’s concealed carry firearm, as well as more effectively securing the holster in which that pistol is contained. They might be a bit pricier, and a bit plainer than a typical “fashion” belt. But if you plan to carry using a waistband method, it’s a helpful investment that can save you some money as well as piece of mind. I may not get to wear my Batman buckle as much as I like, but I’ve found that for my CCW needs, I’m better off with a real “utility belt.”